Figs, Fig Trees, and Fig Leaf Tea! September 09 2014

On yesterday's Harvest Full Moon I was blessed with the opportunity to pick the ripe fruits of Ficus carica, better known as common fig, from one of the most well tended fig trees I've ever met!  Figs have been a prized tree throughout the ages as both a food and a medicine, and not only did I get the biggest fig stash ever, but I also received about a pound of dried fig leaves. The fruits are rich with so much history and lore that a google search will get you lost in stories of Ancient times. However, we less commonly hear about the beautiful leaf of such a tree, and there seems to be good things to learn here.

Dried fig leaves make a deliciously sweet and mild tea. Upon harvesting from the fig tree a white oozing substance is released from the broken or cut stems. This latex has been known to cause skin ulcers and dermatitis with prolonged exposure, and it is a very sticky rubber like substance (the fig tree is related to the rubber tree), making it difficult to wash off. Thus it's reputation for removing warts! The uses of fig leaf as a tea can be explored best in personal experience, however we have some evidence that it can be useful in lowering insulin intake in type I Diabetics with proper dosing, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9597370.

There is clinically researched data stating that fig leaves have been historically used for leprosy, ulcers and skin conditions. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25017517    However, it is more likely that further investigation will reveal that these are misdiagnosed problems caused by the frequent handling of the fresh fig latex. Ryan Drum explains the "outbreak of leprosy" in fig pickers, until it was discovered that these open wounds and skin abnormalities were actually caused by the picking of figs themselves. The remedy was wearing protective gear, and suddenly the leprosy was gone! All this to say that there is some of this latex still in the dried leaves with which we make tea. Thus, I feel this is a plant should be used therapeutically rather than as daily tonic.

Empirical evidence has also found that fig leaves have antiviral properties against herpes simplex 1.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15850358  Such research indicates that this is an herb to be taken in courses. A course is a period of time (usually between 2-8 weeks) in which the prescribed herb is consumed multiple times daily for the indicated length of time, and then use of the herb is discontinued.  

Fig Leaf Salve, and uses of green fruits can be found at http://www.ryandrum.com/twobudsoneleaf.htm#fig 

Fig fruits and their great part in history can be read at https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/f/figcom12.html#use

 

~Herbally Yours,  Heather Luna